Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Unbelievably inconceivable

I'd like to share a story with you. A true story, that is quite unbelievable, but I assure you that the following events actually happened.

A young man, who happens to be Palestinian, checks his email on what he thinks is a public computer while waiting for some friends. He sends an email to a friend in a Western country. An non-uniformed Lebanese guard tells him to get off the computer, so he logs out and walks outside the building. The guard yells out something to him, which he ignores. He then finds himself face down on the ground with the guard pummeling his back with his fists.

A group of army dudes standing nearby manage to separate the two and the police arrive. They take both men to the station to interrogate them. The young Palestinian didn't fight back when he was attacked, and was very shocked as to why they would want to interrogate him. Well, it turns out that he was suspected of sending an email to Israel. Yep. The reason why he'd been beaten up by a private, plain-clothed security guard was because he might have sent an email to Israel.

Of course, this young man hadn't sent an email to Israel, but was treated like a criminal for a couple of hours. Meanwhile, the man who had attacked him was swearing black and blue that he hadn't even touched him. Thankfully, one of the police was pretty observant, and pointed out the back of the young man's shirt, which was torn. The young man then lifted his shirt to reveal that he was in fact black and blue, all over his back.

After initially refusing to show them the email he'd sent as a matter of principle, he relented and showed the police on the computer he'd used. The email contained a certain friendly insult which wasn't understood by the police, and was perhaps a bit lost in translation. The Lebanese colleagues of the attacking guard were quick to come to the conclusion that this word must be a code word. The interrogation continued. After about 3 hours he was finally released.

This happened last night to a friend of mine, and I was absolutely shocked. I'd arrived minutes after the attack to see him surrounded by soldiers. It took quite a long time to find out what had actually happened, and I still don't have all the details. Even if he had been sending an email to Israel, how could that possibly justify being attacked? What right does someone have to attack another person for sending an email? What law exists preventing someone from sending an email to Israel from Lebanon if they so choose? This country is a crazy place.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear that. A horrible situation for him to have been in and upsetting for you, his friend, as well. I hope that security guard gets what's coming to him.